When I think back to how much life has changed in 8 years, I think ‘where has time gone?!’ I’ve been lucky and privileged enough to share the past 8 years with Tom. And hopefully will get to share may more to come. He’s gone a bit grey about the muzzle the past year or so, just adds to his distinguished air I think. Hard to believe he’s already 9.5years old, and we’ve been a team for 8 of those years. Such an amazing dog and guide. Intelligent, caring and oh so opinionated. Words cannot express how much I love this guy.
The partnership between guide dog and handler is one that I’ve grasped few understand. This past year especially as I spend more time in the city, surrounded by well intentioned strangers, I’m reminded how foreign the idea of trusting a dog in this way is to so many. “Watch out! There’s a curb”. Yea, I know, he told me. “There’s stairs right there!” Yea, I know, he told me. “You’re going to walk off the train platform!” No, I’m not, I know exactly where the edge is and where I am, my dog told me. “You have the light, it’s safe to cross.” No it’s not, he’s hesitating, I’ll wait…as a car turns right on red through the intersection.
When you’re visually impaired and you’ve been together communicating on such an intimate level as Tom and I have for so many years, you learn to trust and you learn to believe what subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) cues your dog is giving to tell you what’s going on. And it’s intensely freeing. I understand folks (often misplaced, sometimes dangerous) well intentions. But I’ll stick to trusting my guide dog and our partnership, and be grateful it’s a job Tom loves and excels at and keep my fingers crossed that remains for as long as possible into the future.
Want to support guide dog partnerships? Check out the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, amazing dogs like Tom wouldn’t be possible with out the generous support of folks like you!